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Verdict: 
Impressive light, though 1700 lumens might be overkill for some road riders
Weight: 
273g

The Cateye Volt 1700 is a super-potent compact front light with enough punch for scorching along the darkest lanes. Several intelligent settings with generous run-times ensure that it's practical for semi-rural and town work too. However, while I have quickly warmed to its charms, there are others out there that offer similar bang for less buck.

  • Pros: Great output, sensible settings and run-times, very user-friendly
  • Cons: A bit pricey

It offers five modes in total – three steady, two flashing – all of which are well thought out and should cater for most people, most of the time. High is 1700 lumens, medium 500 and low 200 – which is tame enough for town. Hyper constant is a hybrid of a 200-lumen steady and 1700 flash, and lastly there's a 200-lumen flash. The light has a memory function, so will turn on in the last mode used.

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Unleashing the full 1700 lumens provides a very rich, ambient light, which gives as much navigational punch as you could want along pitch black lanes – enough for 42mph, anyway, which is my limit for a local descent.

It's potent enough to persuade the most ignorant of full beam drivers to dip, and so long as I've angled the light properly, I've not dazzled or had anyone flash their lights at me. Along my favourite winding lanes, approaching traffic typically dipped their lights at 80 metres or so on clear nights – half that when mist presented.

Cateye Volt 1700 front light - detail.jpg

For serious trail antics, I'd be inclined to pair it with a helmet-mounted flood. However, green lanes and less technical dirt roads/trails were easily navigated at a steady 17mph, and 23-25mph was also doable along clearer sections. Rabbits and other woodland creatures caught in its arc also dispersed promptly.

I was pleasantly surprised to note that the battery life indicator light was still clear after 50 minutes. Given the 2-hour run-time, I was expecting it to have slipped into amber. This took a further 20 minutes, and cruising to red I was confident of getting the full 2 hours, which I did (2hrs 3mins to be precise).

Medium is just about bold enough for reasonably brisk, semi-rural contexts. Again, there's been no problem with being seen by other vehicles, although in this mode I felt the benefits of improved peripheral spread, particularly when negotiating busy unlit side roads and junctions.

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Low stirred a bit of unexpected debate, with some acquaintances reasoning – not without justification – that 200 lumens was a bit overkill for well-lit city centres. However, it's a decent, frugal default, which seems optimal for suburban stuff.

Again, give a minute or so either side, I've had the 15 hours cited – sufficient for a fortnight's commuting, possibly longer.

Cateye Volt 1700 front light - side.jpg

I have to say, though, I've found hyper constant that bit more effective, especially at roundabouts and other sections, where the flashing diode really commands attention – even, dare I say, restraint, judging by some otherwise eager driver's reactions. It's also rather useful on misty, murky mornings where lights aren't necessary in the navigational sense but you need to remain firmly on the radar.

Although no problem in faster flowing traffic, it's a little harsh at close quarters, so I've tended to toggle down to the 200-lumen flashing mode in those circumstances.

This, aside from being extremely economical – I've come nowhere near to testing the 150 hours cited run-time – makes a passable daylight flash. It's adequate for scooting to work in the morning without putting a dent in reserves should you wish to blow off some steam afterwards. As a limp-home option, friends suggest it's visible at around 100 metres, slightly further on a clear night.

Specification/build

What's behind all this performance then? Up front we have two Chip On Board LEDS projected through the Opticube lens and reflector, which create a very pure arc of light. I was assured peripheral prowess was much better than the Volt 1600 and this did appear to be the case.

The casing is a neatly executed mix of CNC machined aluminium and high quality composites. Aside from durability, the former serves as a heat-sink, theoretically preventing diodes, circuitry and switchgear from becoming overly hot. It also sports a 'caution hot' sticker, but in practice, though it's become warm even the highest setting when run for 90 minutes or so didn't induce singed digits.

Cateye Volt 1700 front light - underside.jpg

Another neat feature is the removable Li-ion cell, which presents the option of carrying a replacement, for extended nocturnal runs, say.

The Volt 1700 is reassuringly well sealed from the elements too – I've given ours a decent point-blank-range three-minute blast from my garden hose with no obvious signs of ingress. The charge port plug is also deeply recessed and an extremely snug fit, though easy enough to prise free for charging.

Charging/power levels

Charging is via a sensible-length micro-USB cable, and in keeping with competitors takes 5 hours from the mains when fully depleted.

When charging, the switch-cum-charge indicator flashes red when you're somewhere between empty and 50%; amber is 50% plus, and green denotes fully charged.

The switch itself is a huge centre-mounted affair, slightly squidgy and easily commanded in winter-weight, full-finger gloves. It's positive enough that it doesn't accidentally engage in pockets or luggage.

It gives a pretty accurate gauge of your reserves when the light's on. Clear means 100-50%, whereupon you'll get amber; turning red says you've got 30-16% and flashing means you're down to 15% and should staircase downwards. It's probably the most intuitive of all the master blaster torch types I've tested to date.

Mounting bracket

This is Cateye's familiar 'Flextight' thumbwheel type bracket, reckoned compatible with everything from 22-32mm diameters. I've had no problems with 31.8, 26.2, 26.0 and 25.4mm. It's a bit of a love/hate design and one I've not been overly endeared to previously, but this version seems really quick, easy to use and, most importantly, very secure.

Cateye Volt 1700 front light - clamp.jpg

Conclusion

Ultimately, I've really enjoyed using the Volt 1700 and it represents an excellent option for those wanting a very powerful light without the encumbrance of external battery packs. The ability to extend rides with aftermarket batteries is another plus.

By the same token, unless you are looking to tackle the darkest roads or trails at warp speed, there are slightly less powerful but still practical options with smaller price tags, such as Moon's Meteor Storm Pro for £124.99, Ravemen's PR1200 USB Rechargeable DuaLens Front Light for £99.99, or Cygolite's Metro Pro 1100 for £99.95.

Verdict

Impressive light, though 1700 lumens might be overkill for some road riders

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Cateye Volt 1700 front light

Size tested: n/a

Tell us what the light is for

Cateye says: "The Volt 1700 is CatEye's most user-friendly, high powered rechargeable light, offering enhanced light distribution on or off the beaten track.

"Not only does it pump out an extra 100 Lm over the Volt 1600, it also benefits from side visibility, a tool-free replaceable cartridge battery, a 3 level battery indicator and a significantly shorter recharging time.

"With 5 modes giving run times from 2 – 150 hrs, the Volt 1700 does it all."

My feelings are that it's a capable and charming big light with sensible modes and run-times but I'm not sure it's better than several competitors around £20 cheaper.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?

From Cateye:

* Chip LED x 2, 1700 Lumen maximum output

* Super powerful wide beam with Opticube technology & sideways visibility

* USB Li-ion rechargeable, tool-free, replaceable cartridge battery

* Large mode button for ease of use when wearing gloves

* 3 level battery indicator:

When charging: Red = less than 50% charged / Orange = more than 50% charged / Green = charging completed

When illuminated: Orange = battery capacity 50-31% / Red = 30-16% / Red flash = less than 15% remaining

* Double click to High Mode. Single click returns to the previous mode

* Recharge time: 5.5 – 15 hrs

* Includes Flextight bracket 22-32mm

Rate the light for quality of construction:
 
8/10

Robust and well engineered throughout.

Rate the light for design and ease of use. How simple was the light to use?
 
8/10

A very simple, intuitive switch-cum-battery life indicator. Absolute doddle to operate in gloved hands. Modes are also very sensible, so something of a social chameleon, with decent town manners too.

Rate the light for the design and usability of the clamping system/s
 
7/10

Clamp and bracket seem very reliable and have accommodated bar/extension brackets between 31.8 and 25.4mm. Clutch type quick release is a bit fiddly in winter weight gloves, but I tend to take mounts an' all with me when parking in the street.

Rate the light for waterproofing. How did it stand up to the elements?
 
8/10

No problems in wet, gritty conditions and it has also withstood my garden hose test with flying colours. That said, nothing less than I'd expect from this price point.

Rate the light for battery life. How long did it last? How long did it take to recharge?
 
7/10

Charge times are faithful to those cited and competitive with others offering similar outputs. Requires a good five hours mains charging when fully depleted. However, the removable battery offers scope for carrying spares/extending ride times.

Rate the light for performance:
 
9/10

Excellent overall, in every setting. To my surprise, the casing hasn't become unduly warm – even regularly run at full output for 90 minutes or so.

Rate the light for durability:
 
8/10

Feels solid throughout.

Rate the light for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the light for value:
 
6/10

Not bad value, but facing stiff competition from units such as Moon's Meteor Storm Pro.

Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Overall, the Volt 1700 has proven every bit as capable through town as it is along the darkest lanes. Switching between modes, say when transitioning between rural to semi-suburban settings, is a doddle thanks to the intuitively positioned and responsive switch.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the light

Output, accurate run-times, removable battery and decent build quality throughout.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light

Nothing given the design brief, although at full rrp its additional power may not be enough to justify the additional expense for some riders.

Did you enjoy using the light? Yes

Would you consider buying the light? Certainly on my shortlist but not at full rrp.

Would you recommend the light to a friend? Well worth a look if they wanted a versatile light for most riding contexts.

Use this box to explain your overall score

It's a very solid and capable light, if a touch pricey for some tastes. Despite that, I still think it warrants an 8 overall. It's very good.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 44  Height: 1m 81cm  Weight: 70kg

I usually ride: Rough stuff tourer based around 4130 Univega mountain bike frameset  My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking

Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)

24 comments

Avatar
Fish_n_Chips [558 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

Great but how much?!

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Fish_n_Chips [558 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

Great but how much?!

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Fish_n_Chips [558 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

Great but how much?!

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Fish_n_Chips [558 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

Great but how much?!

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Fish_n_Chips [558 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

Great but how much?!

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Fish_n_Chips [558 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

Great but how much?!

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StoopidUserName [509 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

I wonder does the mounting bracket fit the flat bit of an aero bar I.e the specialized aerofly?

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bendertherobot [1529 posts] 7 months ago
1 like
StoopidUserName wrote:

I wonder does the mounting bracket fit the flat bit of an aero bar I.e the specialized aerofly?

It's very round so, unlikely.

K-Edge do a mount though https://www.evanscycles.com/k-edge-cateye-computer-mount-EV308032?lsft=e...

Though you may have to ditch your 'Garmin' and I'm not sure the length of the light will guarantee a fit

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janusz0 [159 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes
Fish_n_Chips wrote:

[533 posts]

How come that, 5 portions later, the post count is still 533 rather than 538?

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RoubaixCube [89 posts] 7 months ago
1 like

Would rather grab a Moon Meteor Storm Lite or Storm pro for the ability to swap out the battery. the Storm pro is currently £86 at evans and pumps out 2000 lumens. It just seems a more versatile light in that sense.

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Welsh boy [565 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

Surely if ou are using the 1700 lumen setting, when you meet an oncoming vehicle or other cyclist you are going to have to dip it by dropping down a setting.  I wonder if a drop from 1700 to 500 lumens is a bit much, any comment from the tester?

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StoopidUserName [509 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes
bendertherobot wrote:
StoopidUserName wrote:

I wonder does the mounting bracket fit the flat bit of an aero bar I.e the specialized aerofly?

It's very round so, unlikely.

K-Edge do a mount though https://www.evanscycles.com/k-edge-cateye-computer-mount-EV308032?lsft=e...

Though you may have to ditch your 'Garmin' and I'm not sure the length of the light will guarantee a fit

Cheers. The lezyne lights look like theyll wrap around the bar and I wondered if this was similar.

I agree with the other poster, going from 1700 lumens to 500 is too big a jump in my opinion

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Legs_Eleven_Wor... [163 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

Two of these, stat! 

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don simon [2553 posts] 7 months ago
2 likes

Now that I've got a £10k bike and wear £200 bibs with a £300 jacket and £100 jersey, while waddling in my new £300 shoes.

I don't think that £170 for a light, that'll never be used to full potential either, seems excessive.

I am cyclist.

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hawkinspeter [2535 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes
don simon wrote:

Now that I've got a £10k bike and wear £200 bibs with a £300 jacket and £100 jersey, while waddling in my new £300 shoes.

I don't think that £170 for a light, that'll never be used to full potential either, seems excessive.

I am cyclist.

I think it's over-priced compared to other lights on the market.

What does it give you that this one doesn't?: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/USB-Rechargeable-LED-Bicycle-Bike-Front-Light...

For 10x more money, I'd expect a lot more functionality.

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Bikebikebike [387 posts] 7 months ago
4 likes
hawkinspeter wrote:
don simon wrote:

Now that I've got a £10k bike and wear £200 bibs with a £300 jacket and £100 jersey, while waddling in my new £300 shoes.

I don't think that £170 for a light, that'll never be used to full potential either, seems excessive.

I am cyclist.

I think it's over-priced compared to other lights on the market.

What does it give you that this one doesn't?: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/USB-Rechargeable-LED-Bicycle-Bike-Front-Light...

For 10x more money, I'd expect a lot more functionality.

Not blowing up and burning your house down when charging?

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Plasterer's Radio [438 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

No boring standard 'too bright/German light standard' type comments?

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Welsh boy [565 posts] 7 months ago
1 like
Plasterer's Radio wrote:

No boring standard 'too bright/German light standard' type comments?

Just give me time to climb aboard my high horse and I will go on about how this type of light will only bring the end of the world as we know it and how it would never be allowed in Germany where people are too stupid to know when to dim a light without legislation helping them.

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Bikebikebike [387 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes
Welsh boy wrote:
Plasterer's Radio wrote:

No boring standard 'too bright/German light standard' type comments?

Just give me time to climb aboard my high horse and I will go on about how this type of light will only bring the end of the world as we know it and how it would never be allowed in Germany where people are too stupid to know when to dim a light without legislation helping them.

But what’s really important for safety is to make sure you’re wearing a helmet. 

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hawkinspeter [2535 posts] 7 months ago
1 like
Bikebikebike wrote:
Welsh boy wrote:
Plasterer's Radio wrote:

No boring standard 'too bright/German light standard' type comments?

Just give me time to climb aboard my high horse and I will go on about how this type of light will only bring the end of the world as we know it and how it would never be allowed in Germany where people are too stupid to know when to dim a light without legislation helping them.

But what’s really important for safety is to make sure you’re wearing a helmet. 

Avatar
captain_slog [458 posts] 7 months ago
3 likes

I can appreciate that for a fast descent in pitch darkness you need a seriously bright light. But you also need to be able to dip that light quickly and safely - that is, without flailing around all over your handlebars.

For that reason I think that lights like this should have a satellite switch, like the one that comes with the Exposure Strada.

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BehindTheBikesheds [2432 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

Even with a sat switch you're still effectively pitching yourself at a speed you can't see to be clear so difficult to discern what line you might need to take or what hazards are ahead which means scrubbing off a significant amount of speed BEFORE you switch.

For all those having a dig at those who might say it's too bight and bringing up certain rules/standards they are actually very important if you are on the road because dazzling other road users is dangerous and can just get you a full beam left on because you are doing so.

The tester thought this wasn't an issue in this case however when you're coming up an incline, even a very slight one that light thst wasn't direct in the eye line can be.

Off the road it's not a problem anyway because rarely on a trail will you encounter someone coming the other way especially at speeds you might be doing on the roads. You'd probably want a brighter light on technical trails at speed in any case as noted again in the article.

I go out with my Sigma Pava, love it for the secure clamp and 3 seconds it takes to mount/unmount the whole unit to put onto other bikes and still good for 34mph in the dicky dark, not as bright as the Cateye here but has a 10 hour run time on high. For faster runs (rare for me in the dark to go over the 34mph) I pair with a BBB headlight. 

One last thing, anecdotal mutterings about how useful X mode was is simply that, pretty much every light does the same thing in X conditions. I've being cycling with a low level 120 lumen light for around a decade and haven't being encroached upon at roundabouts at night time and certainly haven't had issues with being seen in misty conditions when putting it on slow flash.

I bet if you looked back at pretty much every light you tested and put yourself in the self same scenarios the wording would be virtually identical except for glow-worm lights.

 

Avatar
janusz0 [159 posts] 7 months ago
1 like
Welsh boy wrote:

Surely if ou are using the 1700 lumen setting, when you meet an oncoming vehicle or other cyclist you are going to have to dip it by dropping down a setting.  I wonder if a drop from 1700 to 500 lumens is a bit much, any comment from the tester?

That's not "dipping".  If it's shining in the other person's eyes at 1700 lm, then it will still be shining in their eyes at 500 lm.  What's important is the beam pattern and that you adjust the angle to keep it out of other people's eyes.

Aside: I've only ridden recumbents during the day, but I guess that oncoming vehicles are dazzlingly scary at night.

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ScottBolton [1 post] 6 months ago
0 likes
StoopidUserName wrote:

I wonder does the mounting bracket fit the flat bit of an aero bar I.e the specialized aerofly?

I have a Canyon H31 and I use the strap type bracket but with a small piece of plastic or innertube to ensure the light is angled down. Works a treat!